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Paul Abbott (born 22 February 1960) is a BAFTA award-winning Englishmarker television screenwriter. Abbott became one of the most critically and commercially successful television writers working in Britain today, following his work on many popular series, including Coronation Streetmarker, Cracker and Shameless, the latter of which he created. He is also responsible for the creation of some of the most highly-acclaimed television dramas of the 1990s and 2000s, including Reckless and Touching Evil for ITV and Clocking Off and State of Play for the BBC.

Background

Paul Abbott is the seventh of eight children. When he was nine his mother left home to pursue a relationship with another man (with a child around Abbott’s own age); his father, who Abbott describes as having been "bone idle", departed two years later. His mother had supported the family from three jobs. Abbott and his siblings were in the care of their pregnant sixteen year-old sister, quite illicitly; had the arrangement come to the attention of social services they would have been placed in care.

At the age of thirteen, Abbott was attacked and raped on the way home from school, only revealing the incident to his current wife many years later. At this time he was playing truant, though by then his English teacher at Barden High School in Burnley had recognised his talent and had appointed him as editor of the school newspaper.

Two years later he failed in an attempt to commit suicide and was sectioned into an adult mental hospital for a short while, later becoming a voluntary patient. On his release, he was taken into foster care and placed with a much more settled working class family than his own, where having both adults in steady employment was a new experience for Abbott, as was their television and car. At the same time he began attending a local Sixth Form College and started attending meetings of the Burnley Writers' Circle after seeing their advert in the local public library.

He subsequently studied at the University of Manchester and earned a degree in Psychology.

Career

Shortly after graduating he began to find opportunities to write professionally writing radio plays for BBC Radio 4. Abbott entered the Radio Times drama competition at the age of 22 which had the requirement to find a professional sponsor. A contact knew the address of the leading British dramatist Alan Bennett, who after seeing his script, was of the opinion that Abbott had written a perfectly acceptable piece of work which he would be happy to endorse.

His radio work attracted the attention of producers at Granada Television who hired him, at age twenty-four, to be a script editor on their long-running soap opera Coronation Street. This made him at the time the youngest-ever person to occupy such a role on the programme.

He worked on Coronation Street for the next eight years as a story editor and from 1989 as a writer. He also worked on other programmes for Granada. In 1988, he co-wrote his first televised drama script, a one-off play for the Dramarama anthology, with fellow Coronation Street writer Kay Mellor. The same year, he and Mellor co-created the children's medical drama Children's Ward, which ran for many years—Abbott regularly contributed scripts until 1992, then returned briefly to the show in 1995.

In 1994, he worked as the producer on the second season of Granada’s drama series Cracker, about the work of a criminal psychologist played by Robbie Coltrane. The following year he switched to writing scripts for the programme and wrote several episodes. He made his first breakthrough with a programme of his own creation, the police drama serial Touching Evil in 1997. The series, starring popular actor Robson Green, was a success, and two sequel serials—although not written by Abbott—followed. Most recently, in 2004, the series was re-made for American television by the USA Network.

After writing another serial starring Green, Reckless and a few other productions for Granada, he began in 1999 a collaboration with the independent Red Production Company. He contributed an episode to their anthology series Love in the 21st Century, screened on Channel 4, and in 2000 created and wrote the series Clocking Off for them, which was screened on BBC One. Set in one factory in Lancashire, the series focused on a different member of factory staff each episode. The first season won the BAFTA award for Best Drama Series, and the equivalent at the Royal Television Society awards; Abbott personally was recognised with the RTS Best Writer award. Clocking Off ran for four seasons, although Abbott’s contributions to the final two runs were minimal as he was by this time busy working on other projects.

In 2001, he created another Red series screened on BBC One, the comedy-drama Linda Green; although this was somewhat less successful and ran for only two seasons before cancellation. In 2001, he was due to adapt the D. H. Lawrence novel Sons and Lovers as a four-part television serial but pulled out due to work commitments.

2003 saw Abbott experimenting with a new genre when he wrote the political thriller State of Play, which was directed by David Yates and produced for the BBC by Hilary Bevan-Jones. In late 2003, Abbott and Bevan-Jones founded their own independent production company, Tightrope Pictures, based in Sohomarker, Londonmarker.

In early 2004, Channel 4 screened Shameless, a new Abbott series (written with Danny Brocklehurst and Carmel Morgan) based on his experiences and family life growing up in Burnley, although the action of the programme itself was changed to Manchestermarker in the present day. At the 2004 British Academy Television Awards, he was given the honorary Dennis Potter Award for Outstanding Writing in Television, and in July of the same year Radio Times magazine placed him at No. 5 in a poll of industry professionals to find The Most Powerful People in Television Drama. Abbott was the highest-placed writer on the list, those above him being actors and executives.

Tightrope Pictures have produced several high-profile dramas for the BBC, including Richard Curtis's The Girl in the Café (BBC One, 2005) and an adaptation of William Golding's novel To the Ends of the Earth (BBC Two, 2005).

In July 2006, it was announced that the University of Salfordmarker had appointed Abbott as a visiting professor, and in the same month Manchester Metropolitan Universitymarker awarded him with an honorary doctorate. Abbott's November 2006 lecture at Salford entitled "The 21st Century Box" explored how media is changing and provided 'first aid for British television makers'. Attendees included the Mayor and Mayoress of Salfordmarker.

Paul now lives in Cheshiremarker with his third wife Saskia and their two children, Tom (born 1992) and Annie (born 1994).

He has now adopted the role of executive producer/showrunner with the Manchester based writer's studio.

Awards

BAFTA

BAFTA TV Award
Year Series Category Result
1995 Cracker Best Drama Series Won
1998 Touching Evil Best Drama Series Nominated
2001 Clocking Off Best Drama Series Won
2002 Clocking Off Best Drama Series Nominated
2003 Clocking Off Best Drama Series Nominated
2004 State of Play Best Drama Series Nominated


Broadcasting Press Guild Awards

Year Series Category Result
2004 Shameless Writer's Award Won
2005 State of Play Writer's Award Won


Emmy

Year Series Category Result
2005 The Girl in the Café Outstanding Made for Television Movie Won


Royal Television Society

RTS Television Award
Year Series Category Result
1998 Touching Evil and Reckless Best Writer Nominated
2001 Clocking Off Best Writer Won
2005 Shameless Best Writer Won
2006 Shameless Best Writer Nominated


Writers' Guild of Great Britain

Year Series Category Result
1993 Coronation Street TV - Original Drama Series Won
1996 Cracker TV - Original Drama Series Won


References

Newspapers: Television:

External links




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